With the weekend already underway, and having a read about Texas possibly switch to an 85 mph speed limit I thought looking at national speed limits would be an interesting post. Everyone who has driven a decent stretch of the United States that this is a giant country and having a different speed limits can greatly change your attitude of a state. I personally would rather drive a crossed North or South Dakota twice at 75 mph than slowly navigate from the north end to the south end of Illinois at 65 mph. As such, you can tell that many states have very different opinions of what is safe or efficient and this has changed over time.
In 1974, the US passed what was called the National Maximum Speed Limit Law which lowered the maximum speed limit to 55 mph a crossed the US which was supposed to save gas, make the roads safer, and pave the way for the return of the unicorns. Instead of saving the hoped for 2.2% of gas use, it turned out to be much closer to .5-1% and has wasted millions of collective years of peoples lives spent sitting in a car driving much slower than needed. It’s taken many years, but as a country we are still climbing out of this mistake of having an artificially low speed limit.
What’s that you say? It’s safer and does save some gas? Sure, driving slower does make accidents less severe, but what is the limit to that statement? If everyone were to top out at 5 mph there would be virtually no deaths and very few people seriously injured in automobile accidents. Is there an acceptable amount of casualties due to millions of people getting to their destinations faster? On the front of saving gas, maybe it’s just me but I think that if I want to put a rocket engine on my car and blast around the country at 800 mph and 300 gallons per mile (being reasonably safe!) I should be able to do that because ultimately we still let people drive hummers and other low low gas mileage vehicles.
What are your thoughts on speed limits? Is 85 mph too fast or 55 mph too slow? When do the benefits and drawbacks of either side start to become unreasonable?